--Before reading my review please bear in mind that I am reviewing Resident Evil as if it where 1997--
Without any hesitation I will say it - Resident Evil was the first game to successfully create a genre called survival horror on the PC (and on the psx as well for that matter), though I still consider it to be very bland.
As you begin the game, you are to choose between two characters: Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. Depending on who you choose, the game will play differently. I also think (not sure) Chris has more HP than Jill. You are part of a team dispatched to a Mansion in the outskirts of Raccoon City and your objective is to find out what experiments have been going there. However, on your way to the mansion you are attacked by brutal mutated dogs that instantly kill some of your team members and the remaining survivors (which includes you) make a run for the Mansion, hoping they are safe - which they aren't.
As the game begins only two members of the team will be with you. These are Barry Burton and Albert Wesker, your team leader. So, play as Chris and Jill is missing. Play as Jill and Chris is missing. In any case, you are to investigate a noise you hear as soon as you enter the mansion and the story begins.
Obviously, the mansion has most doors locked. The game is designed in way that you can only open doors in a certain way. For example, imagine you need to go to the let's call it "silver door" - you need a special silver key. Where is that key? Inside a locked room locked that needs a red key. Where is the red key? You need to complete a special puzzle in yet another locked room to get it. How do you unlock that room? It needs 3 special emblems scattered throughout the Mansion. I could go on and on but I think everyone gets the picture. In other words, you’ll spent most of the time just unlocking, opening and closing doors.
However, this isn’t as simple as it sounds. To stop you from getting what you need (they are there for a reason) there are gruesome monsters. These can be the famous zombies or other type of monsters introduced by the producers with a scary cut scene. In order to vanquish these monsters you have various weapons at your disposal, from the useless, dead-wishing, knife to the massive rocket-launcher. Most of the monsters only have one type of attack except for those considered unique such as the Tyrant you will face on the last part of the game. The Tyrant can be defined as a huge man infected by a special virus that has brutal strength.
Throughout the game you will find not only weapons (since you only start with a gun) but precious ammo. Some of the Mansion rooms are called the safe rooms. They contain a typewriter and a storage box. If you have ink ribbons you can save your game. The storage box allows you to store things you can’t carry on your inventory or just don’t need at the moment. Say you leave a gun at the storage in the safe room on the first floor - the gun will also be in the safe room on the second floor. Stupid but life saving. You will also find numerous healing items.
The combat system is however unfair. Things now available on most games were only introduced on Resident Evil 3 (a few years later). You can’t walk and shoot at the same time, you can’t dodge your enemies’ attacks, you can’t perform melee attacks to save ammo and you can’t just run by enemies, because the mansion’ corridors are as tight as possible and you can’t change the camera view and so on.
The characters’ health is based on a cardiogram and the more damage you take, the smaller are the lines on it. The height of the lines is based on 4 states – Fine (green line), Fine (yellow line), Caution (orange line) and danger (red line). Basically if you are on danger, almost every enemy attack will finish you.
Your inventory is also one of the most frustrating things ever. I don’t really remember but I think you can only carry 8 items at a time. Just imagine: 2 for weapons and 2 for ammo. Another 2 for healing items and 2 remain for keys and other special items. Hopefully you can just leave the ink ribbons on the storage box. In any case you will spend most of your time going back and forth for keys you left on the storage box or ammo you need or to deposit one key so you can pick up another. There is also no way to know which way is next or which door you need to unlock, which contributes to the non-stopping rush to the storage box.
To get out of the rush you will encounter some unique enemies which can be addressed as bosses. They are all strong and you will have a hard time with them, especially considering your limited combat system. All you can do is stay stationary at a place and just shoot like crazy.
The graphics are pretty much horrible, but it was 1997 so they were okay. There is some stuff you can do after completing the game if not by choosing Chris instead of Jill or Jill instead of Chris but that just isn’t enough to repeat the door rush and the storage rush.
Even though limited Resident Evil was a worthy experience back then. Nowadays, it’s become a shadow of great sequels like Resident Evil 4&5 and a forgotten game in most Resident Evil fans shelves.
I consider Resident Evil to be a tiny bit better than most games of that epoch.